More Alarming Records
Produced by Blake Mills (Alabama Shakes) and recorded in Laura Marling’s adopted Los Angeles, the British folk singer’s sixth album, Semper Femina (roughly Latin for “always a woman”), is an exploration of femininity and womanhood written at a “masculine time” in Marling’s life. “I’m interested in the differences between men and women, of which there are plenty, and they need to be understood better,” says the prolific 27-year-old songwriter, whose period of androgyny allowed these introspective songs to come from a “neutral perspective”. The set opens with swirling strings on hauntingly sensual lead single Soothing, then the warm acoustic folk of The Valley takes us back to Marling’s earlier compositions, but each song bristles with a wistful confidence way beyond her youthful years. On the soulful Wild Fire, Marling could be Patti Smith as she questions, “Are you getting away with who you’re trying to be?” The album’s characters and narratives are blessed with subtle personal sentiment as a West Coast dreaminess washes over beautifully finger-picked rhythms.